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Best Kamado Grill – Buyers Guide and Reviews, 2019 Edition

No matter what your hobby or passion may be, there almost always comes a time when you want to take it to the next level. The outdoorsy types get a longer trailer; photographers snag a bigger lens; model railroaders build a mountain.

So what do grillers do? Well, many head out to the store and pick up a big and shiny new outdoor kitchen. Others take up the fine art of smoking meat.

For some, however, the solution is to buy a Kamado grill.

Me and my 2 red kamado joes

If you’re considering making the jump and going Kamado, we’ve put together a comprehensive buyers guide you’ll want to look over.

We’ll talk about the pros and cons of cooking on a Kamado, what you can expect from the experience, and of course what to look for in a quality Kamado grill.

We’ll wrap it all up with reviews of the top models on the market, so by the end of the article you know which is the best kamado grill for you. We’ve chosen the following eight from a field of dozens for your consideration.

At a Glance: Our Top 8 Choices for Best Kamado Grill

Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon.

Best Kamado Grills – Product Roundup and Mini-Reviews

Now that we’ve taken care of the general overview let’s get down and dirty with a few choice grills in our best kamado grill review section.

Kamado Joe – Editors Pick as the Best Kamado Grill

Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Ceramic, Classic II Charcoal Grill

If your primary concern about making the switch to a Kamado grill is giving up the traditional barbecue experience for a life of slow-roasted ribs and brisket (which really doesn’t sound like such a bad life…), then set your mind at ease with the first grill on our list, one that also appears in our list of top backyard charcoal grills.

Kamado Joe has made a name for itself in a market that’s been primarily dominated by the Big Green Egg. While it may not be the original, it’s certainly innovative and has brought great vision to the market.

The Kamado Joe Classic 18” is the cornerstone of the company’s lineup, which also includes the Big Joe 24” and the Joe Jr.

One of the great things about Joe is that they graciously include several handy extras:

  • A stand on wheels
  • Ash tool
  • Divide and conquer system (for creating different grilling and temperature zones)
  • Flip-up side tables.

You can forgo the add-ons, however, if you want to go with a larger table on which to set up. in this case, you buy a ‘standalone unit’ and a table on which to sit the grill in.

This is a very well constructed unit, made of high-fired ceramic with a porcelain glaze. The Classic is rather thick, so the outside should stay reasonably cool to the touch during cooking.

I said the Classic was innovative, and I meant it. There’s been a redesign for 2017, and a great grill is now even greater.

Kamado lids are pretty heavy, and though the old hinge was more than up to the task, the new Air Lift Hinge is a thing of beauty. No more slamming the lid shut by accident and risking damage with this grill – let go of the handle, and the lid stays where you leave it. I haven’t seen the mechanism, but I’m assuming it’s hydraulic.

The top vent has also been rejigged for 2017, and provides even more control, as well as preventing rain from getting inside. At the bottom you’ll find a pullout ash drawer, making the job of cleaning out the grill a piece of cake. And, so as not to leave out the middle, you’ll find a new self-activating stainless steel latch securing the lid.

There are still plenty of 2016 models available at the time of writing, and you shouldn’t hesitate to pick one up, especially if you score a good deal. It was always an excellent grill, even before the new enhancements.

The specs are excellent on this unit: the versatile grill can expand from 256 square inches up to an impressive 660 square inches.

How is this possible? The Classic comes with a grill expander that allows you to create multiple cooking areas with a stacked grill. You can even set up different temperature zones with a heat deflector.

What We Like:

  • Thick ceramic construction
  • Versatile grill makes up for moderate size
  • Many accessories included
  • Innovative features, like the sliding ash tray
  • Redesign for 2017, including new hinge and top vent
  • Eye-catching red porcelain

What We Don’t Like:

  • Moderately pricey compared to other styles of grill.

No matter which size you go with, the Kamado Joe is an outstanding grill. This is certainly a recommended choice for those who want versatility when they grill, or anyone who just wants to impress the heck out of their friends.

Whether this is your first Kamado, or the next step up on the path to pit master, you’d be hard pressed to make a better choice. This is the one this site owner, Mark, owns. And it is, in his opinion, the very best kamado grill on the market.

 

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

 

Note: We have a far more in depth, individual look at this model in our Kamado Joe Review.

Primo Oval Ceramic Grill

Primo 7500 Charcoal Grill, Large, Black

 

Anyone who is accustomed to a wide grill, such as a gas bbq, might be a little hesitant to start cooking in the round with a standard Kamado.

Grill size may be limited, different heat zones difficult to achieve, and large cuts hard to accommodate. If these thoughts have been on your mind, the Primo Oval offers a solution.

As the name implies, this Kamado is oval-shaped rather than circular. The extra width is great for accommodating a rack of ribs, and you can divvy up the charcoal in the firebox to create two distinct heat zones – high direct heat above the coals on one side, and indirect heat on the other – perfect for searing and then cooking indirect until done.

An American-made grill, the Primo Oval is a ceramic monster that weighs 250 pounds. However, you do get a cast-iron top vent and 300 square inches of cooking area included in that weight. Thinking 300 isn’t enough? No problem! The grill can be expanded with a rack system to 495 sq. in.

If you want to go bigger, Primo also offers a 400 square inch Oval XL, available in two versions, including a Jack Daniel’s special edition that would look great in the backyard. There’s also a smaller 210 square incher, and a traditional 18.5” round Kamado.

The reversible grills should have a long life expectancy, and the spring-loaded hinge makes lifting the hefty lid a simpler chore than it might otherwise be. Their website offers some great tips on Kamado cooking for the neophytes, and if you really love the grill you can order Primo-branded gear to wear while you cook.

Although this has every appearance of being a high-quality Kamado, it unfortunately doesn’t come standard with many of the cool accessories available for it. Actually, it doesn’t come with anything, unless you buy the “All-in-One” package, which comes with a cart and cradle, fold-down side tables, an ash tool, and a grate lifter.

That expandable grill? Sold separately. Ditto the firebox divider. If you prefer to buy a la carte, then this won’t be a big deal, but it’s important to compare apples to apples if you’re price shopping.

What We Like:

  • Heavy-duty ceramic
  • Oval grill provides extra room for cooking
  • Dual-sided grills for increased life-span
  • Dividable firebox

What We Don’t Like:

  • Leans towards the expensive side
  • Really heavy
  • Basic accessories not included, except in upgrade package
  • Black finish is not the most attractive look (but of course aesthetics are entirely a matter of personal opinion)

The Primo Oval LG 300 is a very good grill that should meet the needs of most outdoor chefs. I’d especially recommend it to people who love to cook ribs and other really big cuts of meat. If flashy colors aren’t your thing, then you’ll appreciate the subtle black enamel finish.

 

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

 

Weber Summit Charcoal Grill

Weber 18501001 Summit Charcoal Grilling Center, Black

The biggest deterrent for many grillers about charcoal is the somewhat laborious process of lighting the coals. Although a chimney starter is a great device for speeding up the process, there are still those resistant to giving up the push-button convenience of a gas barbeque.

Weber knows you love to grill, and they know you crave convenience, too. So, when they at long last entered the Kamado arena (just recently, in fact) they included a gas-fired igniter. A press of a button sparks the propane-powered igniter to life, and your charcoal should be roaring in minutes without fussing with an electric lighter, chimney, or starter cubes.

Interestingly, Weber makes no reference to Kamados on its website at all. They prefer to see this as a multi-function charcoal grill, and a natural evolution of their famous kettles. Indeed, it looks more like a traditional charcoal barbeque than a Kamado.

With a 24” diameter grill, there is plenty of available surface area for cooking, 452 sq. in., to be precise. Despite the large capacity, the Summit weighs in at a paltry 111 pounds – and that’s shipping weight. (Weber does not provide the weight of the grill online.)

Big and light? How is that possible? Well, this isn’t your traditional Kamado. It’s made of porcelain-enameled steel, without a trace of ceramic. In fact, the dual-wall kettle is air insulated, making it surprisingly lightweight, and yet an efficient holder of heat. Other parts are made of either stainless steel or aluminum.

There are many commendable features to be found on the Summit. The ash drawer is a nice, mess-resistant touch. The fuel grate can be put up for high temperature cooking, or dropped down for low-and-slow. You can even divide your fuel up to create dual temperature zones, which is the essence of good grilling.

What We Like:

  • Trusted name in charcoal grills
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to light
  • Large cooking area
  • Removable ash catcher
  • Diffuser plate
  • Heavy-duty hinge

What We Don’t Like:

  • Weber is new to Kamado-style grills; quality is unproven
  • Current Kamado-users may need an adjustment period to learn dampers
  • Moderately pricey

I can readily imagine purists taking issue with the appearance and construction of this unit, and especially the gas ignition. It even comes with a measuring cup for (gasp!) briquettes.

Still, this is a remarkably versatile grill backed by the expertise of Weber. It’s priced similarly to a Big Green Egg, but may offer increased cooking options. A good choice for charcoal enthusiasts who want to step up, but keep familiar options. Check out our Weber summit charcoal grill review for even more details, or you can follow this link to check prices.

 

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

 

Big Green Egg

A big green egg isolated on white

Diving into unknown waters can be unnerving, whether we’re talking about trying something new, or literally plunging into foreign H2O.

While I don’t recommend the latter, new things can be great. But, when you really don’t know the territory it can be hard to make a choice. Sometimes the best bet is to go with the most popular and well-known option; surely, if so many people are talking about it, it’s gotta be half-decent, right?

You can’t Google “Kamado grills” without seeing a bunch of hits for the Big Green Egg. It really is the progenitor of the modern Kamado in the Western world. It even has its own special adherents: “eggheads,” the original fanboys of the Kamado niche.

Unlike many brands that are popular due to clever marketing, but that are actually inferior products, the Big Green Egg is a quality product. The ceramic is top-of-the-line, and both the top and bottom vents are carefully crafted for precision control of temps. The stainless steel grid should stay fresh with minimal care, and the porcelain exterior will remain shiny and green for years.

The BGE is available in seven different sizes: Mini, MiniMax, Small, Medium, Large, XLarge, and XXLarge.

Here is a quick run down of the dimensions:

  1. Mini – 10” grid; 79 sq. in. cooking area; 39 lbs.
  2. MiniMax – 13” grid; 133 sq. in. cooking area; 76 lbs.
  3. Small – 13” grid; 133 sq. in. cooking area; 80 lbs.
  4. Medium – 15” grid; 177 sq. in. cooking area; 114 lbs.
  5. Large – 18.25” grid; 262 sq. in. cooking area; 162 lbs.
  6. XLarge – 24” grid; 452 sq. in. cooking area; 219 lbs.
  7. XXLarge – 29” grid; 672 sq. in. cooking area; 424 lbs.

If you can’t find a size to suit your needs, well, your needs are pretty darn unique!

The XXLarge is perfect for any human octopus that wants to cook 35-40 burgers at once. Actually, the commercial applications are obvious with this bad boy, which can purportedly handle 14-16 whole chickens, 18-20 steaks, 20 racks of ribs, or one entire suckling pig. For most of us, however, the Large may be the best choice for the typical, have-the-fam-over cookout.

My biggest complaint about the Egg is that when you buy one, that’s exactly what you get – one Big Green Egg. Carts, stacked grills, side tables, deflectors and other great accessories are all sold separately. That’s disappointing, considering they are included with many other Kamados.

I have seen several reports around the forums of people experiencing gasket breakdown on their BGE, but it is the most consumable part of any Kamado. Replacing the gasket is not difficult, and proper care (as in buying a cover) should extend the life and good looks of the entire unit.

What We Like:

  • Best-known name in the industry
  • Very well made
  • 7 sizes to choose from
  • Lots of accessories available
  • Active community online

What We Don’t Like:

  • Comes with minimal accessories
  • Not much innovation over recent years
  • Anecdotally inferior fittings
  • Multi-zone cooking nearly impossible
  • Pushes the affordability envelope

The Big Green Egg may have brought Kamado to the mainstream by being the first practical unit to market, but it has stayed there because it’s a quality product.

Become immersed in the BGE universe here, at their main site.

 

Click to Learn More from The BGE Official Site

 

Broil King Keg 5000 Barbecue Grill

Broil King 911470 Keg 5000 Kamado Grill, 18.5-IN Diameter, Metallic Charcoal

Let’s say, hypothetically, that I’m the kind of guy who really gets around a lot. By that I mean I like to go camping, or to the cottage, or tailgating, or all of the above. A ceramic grill has one very obvious drawback for a griller on the go: like the eggs they resemble, they crack when not treated carefully.

Broil King has the solution: metal. The inside is coated with ceramic, but the exterior is all steel. And rather than looking like an egg, it really does look like a keg. Since the only thing better than a keg is a keg you can take with you, you can get the Keg 5000 with a cart with two sturdy wheels, and it comes standard with the ability to hook on to your trailer hitch with an available adaptor. That’s pure awesome.

The Keg is built very much like a standard oven, with insulation sandwiched between steel coated in enamel. Holding heat should be no bother for this grill. You’ll get 280 sq. in. of cooking space on the 19” cast iron grill. If that’s not sufficient, there’s also a secondary rack you can add on for more room for more meat. By the way, the whole thing is only 126 lbs.

Broil King is better known for their gas grills, offering just two Kamados. Still, a buyer can be confident in the manufacturer’s dedication to good grilling, and there is solid evidence of progressive improvement of their product over the years.

One of these amazing innovations is the addition of built-in bottle openers on the front handle. No, it won’t help the meat cook any better, but it does enhance the backyard grilling experience!

I have seen reports of cracked cast iron cooking grids, and that is an unfortunate drawback of cast iron. Knowing the material is inherently brittle, however, shouldn’t stop you from using it, because it’s a great surface for cooking. My advice? Don’t drop it!

What We Like:

  • Suitable for moving around
  • Crack-resistant
  • Locking lid
  • Cast iron grid great for cooking
  • Lighter than similar Kamados
  • Leading name in barbeques
  • Bottle openers!!

What We Don’t Like:

  • Painted exterior may not weather as well as enamel
  • Resin handles, tables, look “cheap”
  • Cast iron grid can crack

The two best reasons to purchase this grill are for portability and for the price point. If you are absolutely going to travel with your Kamado, this is probably your best choice.

 

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

 

Monolith

BBQ Guru Monolith Ceramic Grill with Digital DigiQ Temperature Control - Most Hi-Tech Charcoal Grill
A lot of us regular guys and girls are not fortunate enough to be able to step out the back door and into an epic oasis of the type featured in barbeque advertisements. Given the typical tight confines of a standard backyard, it may be necessary to scale back one’s outdoor kitchen dreams. For example, I really don’t have room for both a smoker and a grill. But what if there was one device that could perform both tasks with aplomb?

Enter the Monolith.

I don’t know this for a fact, but I like to think the Monolith gets its name not just from being both large and solid, but also from being the catalyst of barbequing evolution, much like its namesake from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Like most of the best Kamados, the Monolith is made of thick, heat-resistant ceramic with an enamel coating. There is nothing unique about its construction, or the way it cooks, by and large. Like some of its competitors, it has a multi-level grill system that allows for expanded cooking. It even has a divided charcoal tray for multi-zone cooking – and it comes standard with each grill, which, as a frugal consumer, I appreciate.

What separates the Monolith from the pack is its versatility as a smoker.

Technically, all Kamados can smoke meat. However, the Monolith was designed with smoking aficionados in mind.

About 1/3 of the way down the main body of the Kamado, there’s an intriguing little knob. Pulling on the knob reveals a small pullout chute. This chute allows you to insert flavored chips or pellets directly on top of the charcoal without having to open the lid. The heat loss should be absolutely minimal, and the convenience is amazing. Such a simple innovation, but what a boon to smokers!

There are three sizes of Monolith available: Junior, Classic, and Le Chef. Junior has a 13” grill, stands 22.4” high, and weighs 97 lbs. Classic offers an 18” grill, measures 30.7” top to bottom, and comes in at 154 lbs. Le Chef is the big boy, with a 21.6” grill, standing 33.5” tall, and tipping the scales at 269 pounds.

All three units are available in either red or black, and come complete with many nice accessories, including deflector stones and stackable grids. You can order each unit as a standalone with ceramic feet (great for adding a heavy duty cart or table, which, of course, Monolith sells), or with a basic cart on wheels with two side tables.

The Monolith does not have a damper cap for the top vent, but neither do many Kamados, so this is a minor complaint. The biggest drawback may be lack of availability: the Monolith is German-made, and it could be challenging for anyone outside of the UK or EU to find this versatile cooker.

What We Like:

  • Stainless steel hinge
  • Size/color selection
  • Divided charcoal basket
  • Smoke pellet/chip feeder
  • Standard accessories

What We Don’t Like:

  • No damper cap
  • May be hard to find in North America

Our readers in the U.K. who want the freedom to grill, bake, and smoke on a minimal footprint may want to consider picking up a Monolith of their own. Just beware of ape-men showing up in your yard brandishing discarded femurs.

Couldn’t find an Amazon listing, but if you want to learn more, including where a dealer can be located, here’s the link for you.

 

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

 

Komodo Kamado

A komodo kamado ceramic grill isolated on white

Now, if money isn’t an issue for you, if you just love grilling so much you’re willing to drop top dollar on a show-stopping Kamado, if you’d love to own the most amazing looking and brilliantly engineered product on the market, then the Komodo Kamado is for you.

And it’s incredible to look at! Who wouldn’t want this piece of art in their yard?

So yes, it’s likely the very best kamado grill in the world when it comes to engineering, build quality, functionality, good looks and wow factor.

The Komodo is the brainchild of Dennis Linkletter, grandson of TV personality Art Linkletter, who took over a small Kamado manufacturing company in Indonesia. His redesigned grills incorporate innovative function and breathtaking appearance.

The 23” Ultimate is the original Kamado, but it has been steadily improved since its debut 12 years ago, and they now have six different sizes, from a 16” table top, all the way up to a 42” beast.

There are now also 40 color variations shown on the website, made possible by the tiles applied to the outside with space-grade adhesive.

Inside of the 23” Ultimate, you’ll find 375 sq. in. of main grill, 274 sq. in. of upper grill, and 329 sq. in. of lower grill. That’s nearly 1000 sq. in. of cooking surface.

Lifting this beautiful monster is a team effort. By that, I mean an American football team because the total weight is 588 lbs.

All three supplied cooking grills are 3/8″ / 9mm 304 stainless steel – and they can be used in 4 cooking positions! The charcoal basket is also 1/4″ / 6.35 mm 304 stainless, the heat shield/ash screen is 3 mm 304 stainless, and many of the fittings and fixtures are also 304 stainless. All this quality material adds to the weight considerably.

And the body itself is a multi-layered, incredibly insulated grill, with the lid alone weighing 120 lbs.!

Fortunately, Komodo kamado designed a ‘self-opening’ hinge for the lid, that once you flip the latch, simply opens all on its own. And it’s easy to close. So don’t be put off by the weight, it couldn’t be easier to operate, regardless of your size and strength.

Every indication is that this is an incredibly well-engineered grill that uses only the best materials. And due to the quality of said materials and it’s extreme insulation, a 16 lb. bag of charcoal will burn for 85 hours at 235F. So by way of best in class fuel efficiency, you will save money every time you use this grill compared to other brands.

By the way, I have to mention that the 42” version called the Serious Big Bad weighs an estimated 1500 lbs. and costs over $9,000! Good thing there’s a monthly payment plan, so it could still be yours – And if you do buy one, please send me a picture.

What We Like:

  • Incredible engineering, build quality and materials used
  • Comes standard with three cooking grates, charcoal basket, drip pan, heat deflector, and side accessory plates, all in very thick 304 stainless steel.
  • Rotisserie shaft system makes it rotisserie ready.
  • ‘Temp controller’ (BBQ guru/Roks Stokker) ready, via the supplied faceplate
  • Optional gas door assembly at the rear
  • Food grade silicone seals
  • Easy to open and close with a self-opening hinge and lid that takes the weight
  • An amazing array of colors to choose from
  • Will quite simply amaze your friends
  • Supplied with a spare parts kit containing: Extra knobs, rear hinge spring, food grade silicone gaskets, matching tiles, acrylic grout, springs, food grade silicone polder plugs, wrench, crow bar, Springs for door and plug and Allen keys.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Very expensive
  • Ridiculously heavy – which is actually a good thing, when you know why 😉

Who is this grill good for?

Anyone with extra money to burn, or the desire to fulfill the dream of owning the ultimate grill, will love this truly unique Kamado.

They are available from online retailers, but I’d stick with the manufacturer’s website if I were placing an order due to the special shipping requirements.

 

Click to Learn More from Komado Kamado

 

Grill Dome Infinity Series

Grill Dome Infinity Series Ceramic Kamado Charcoal Smoker Grill, Blue, Large

I’m a practical guy, and sometimes I just want a quality product that I don’t have to think a lot about. I don’t always need the best and most expensive model, but I also don’t want to waste my money on a cheaper item that won’t perform like I want it to. Somewhere in between there must surely be an option that’s made well, performs up to par, and won’t break my bank.

This is the niche (if slightly above average can be called a niche) that Grill Dome fills. The workmanship and material quality appears to be comparable to other well-reviewed Kamados, and the price is not heart-stopping.

Grill Dome touts itself as being the maker of superior quality Kamados – and they seem to be correct. The Kamado is somewhat thicker than other grills, at 1.25”, and all the requisite bits are there, like stackable grills (optional) and a heavy-duty hinge.

Other than a taller lid (for beer can chicken and piling on the grills) and the aforementioned thickness, there isn’t much about the Grill Dome that stands out as either truly note-worthy, or as a major concern. I do like the color options, however.

The top vent does not seem to offer as much fine-tuning as some others I’ve looked at. I’m sure after some practice, though, one would get the hang of it, and learn how best to set it for various cooking styles.

What We Like:

  • Tall lid for stacked cooking
  • Thicker walls for superior heat retention
  • Color options
  • Company has been selling Kamados since 1989
  • Solid warranty
  • World-wide distribution

What We Don’t Like:

  • No real innovations to set it apart from competitors

The Grill Dome Infinity should be well-suited to anyone just entering the world of Kamados, but not wishing to choose just an entry-level grill. Won’t steer you wrong, but may not knock your socks off, either.

 

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

 

Buying Guide

As with any investment (and as you’ll soon see, a Kamado is an investment, not a purchase), you’ll want to do your homework before you go out and plunk down your heard earned cash.

By the time you reach the end of this article, you should have all the knowledge you need to go out and choose one of your very own.

What is a Kamado Grill? – The History of The Kamado

A Kamado grill, for the uninitiated, is both the latest revolution in barbequing and just about the oldest form of outdoor cooking other than sticking things right in the fire.

Wait, a what? A Kamado? Isn’t that the huge lizard that eats hoofed mammals? Close, but that’s a Komodo. (And we’ll come back to that name a little later…)

In fact, Kamado-like ovens have been around for several millennia. There is some disagreement as to the exact timeline of the Kamado, but here are the basics in a nutshell.

A type of clay cooking vessel developed in China made its way to Japan. Over time, the Japanese adapted it to become a first-rate rice cooker, and they called it “mushikamado.” It’s not unlike its cousin, the tandoori oven, and the two may have shared roots. It is also possible the Japanese deliberately incorporated tandoori technology in their cookers. By the way, “kamado” translates to “cooking range,” or, “stove.”

We’ll skip ahead now to the 1940s. American soldiers stationed in Japan brought home souvenirs from their deployment, including hibachis and Kamados. The American contribution to the development of the Kamado was to adapt it to grilling rather than cooking rice. Some clever folks added the lid and hinges, plus the ability to control the airflow.

An Atlanta, Georgia importer began stocking Kamados in the early 1970s, and his personal improvements, including switching from clay to ceramic, led to the creation of the Big Green Egg. The Egg dominated the industry for years, but now many grill makers offer their own takes on the Kamado.

Whew! That turned out to be a pretty big nutshell!

How Does a Kamado Grill Work?

Kamados are distinctively egg-shaped and very easy to recognize. Typically, the cooking vessel sits on a stand, though more traditional-looking tables are available. Some may feature work surfaces attached to the outside of the grill.

The lower two-thirds of the Kamado is where the coals burn beneath the grill. The top section is a domed lid, usually with a thermometer built in. There are vents at the top and bottom, which when used correctly, regulate the temperature.

A good Kamado seals tightly when the lid is closed, and the interior is designed and built to reflect the heat evenly around the interior. Ceramic is the most commonly used material, though metal models are also available.

Rather than using briquettes, a Kamado works best with lumpwood charcoal. (There are some who swear up and down that briquettes work just fine, however.)

For smoking, you can add big hunks of wood to your charcoal. The fire sits near the bottom of the cooker on a small grate above the firebox. Air flows in from the bottom, and ash falls into an ash catcher.

A fire ring sits above the smoldering coals, upon which the grill rests. Various accessories can also be placed on the fire ring, but we’ll come back to those later.

As mentioned before, the grill is at the top of the lower section of the Kamado. The upper section is the hinged lid, and the adjustable top vent caps the whole thing.

What’s So Great About a Kamado?

A cursory look at Kamados reveals a price range from about 150 bucks for a small, entry level cooker to $4500 for an XXL top of the range model. The bulk of the selection seems to fall roughly in the $750-$1300 range, however.

Regardless, that’s a fair chunk of change considering you can pick up a little charcoal grill for about the price of a case of beer! What makes a Kamado worth the splurge?

First of all, as I said before, this is an investment. A Kamado is a finely crafted piece of cooking equipment, and it will last for years and years, so long as you keep up with the minimal maintenance required.

Secondly, the cooking experience is second to none. Most grillers, once they go Kamado, never go back. This is more than a hot surface for searing steaks and barbequing burgers. A Kamado provides versatility galore.

For example, because of the precise control you have over the airflow, with a little practice you’ll learn how to hold a desired temperature for as long as you need.

“Low and slow” cooking of meats like brisket and ribs is a piece of cake on a Kamado. But, if you like your outdoor cooker to act more like a solar flare, you can open the vents wide and watch the thermometer rise and rise and rise! High heat is perfect for searing steaks.

Another significant advantage of a Kamado is its ability to cook evenly because of the reflected heat.

Ever tried to make pizza on a bbq? It’s challenging and requires constant attention, and you’ll probably end up eating a lot of burnt pizza before you perfect your technique. The even heating of a Kamado makes it an ideal outdoor pizza oven, or you could try baking bread.

Are There Any Drawbacks to a Kamado?

That’s a great question, and I’m glad you asked! While a Kamado offers superior outdoor cooking in many ways, there are some limitations and a few downsides.

The Size

The most obvious issue with many Kamado grills is the size.

A lot of units offer relatively small cooking surfaces. You may find yourself cooking in rounds in order to get everyone fed.

If you plan on cooking for groups regularly, look for a larger grill. They come in many different sizes, from portable to massive. Be sure to pick the size that best suits your needs.

Lack of Different Heat Zones

Many people utilize multiple heat zones when barbequing. In most cases, you toss the meat onto direct heat to sear it and get those lovely grill marks, and then move it to an area of indirect heat to finish cooking.

Kamados are great for creating even heat all over, which means there is only one temperature zone. Fortunately, it’s possible in many models to fit special inserts to create an indirect heat zone.

The Weight

Most Kamados are very heavy and difficult to carry around. A good size cooker is going to weigh 150 pounds or more.

Be sure to invest in a stand with sturdy casters if you plan on moving your grill around the yard. Also be aware that as they are ceramic, they will almost certainly crack if dropped.

The Learning Curve

A Kamado can work up to extremely high temps with ease. That’s awesome for searing but useless for cooking anything thicker than half an inch, or so.

You’ll need to spend time learning the vent system to master temperature control.

Some folks feel Kamados are only suited for smoking and slow cooking, but I do not agree. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but the versatility more than makes up for the time it takes to master this unique style of cooker.

Flashback

Did you ever see the movie Backdraft? Of course not, nobody did. But, maybe you know it’s about the way that fire can suddenly flare up when it’s starved for oxygen, and a new source of O2 is introduced?

On the scale of a burning house, it’s downright deadly. For a barbeque, it’s more of a potentially dangerous nuisance.

A Kamado can keep its heat in part due to the tight seal between the lid and the main body. If you close all the vents, the burning charcoal will soon use up the supply of oxygen. Should you open the lid to have a peek before the coals are completely extinguished, you run the risk of a nasty flare up.

Don’t believe me? Have a look at this video.

 

Features to Look for in a Good Kamado Grill

All Kamados are not created equal. But what distinguishes the good from the mediocre?

Here are some things to look for, and features you may wish to have.

Build Quality

As with every popular consumer good, once a product catches on, low-cost options suddenly appear. I’m all for saving money, but not if that means seriously compromising the quality of the item.

Low-cost Kamados may have thinner walls that will struggle to hold a constant temperature. The whole point of a Kamado is heat retention, so why would you want to give that up? Fit and finish may also be an issue on a cheaper model. Watch for low-grade metal fittings that might rust, and thin gaskets that may not seal tightly.

A small price tag might be appealing, but a more expensive, better-built unit will pay off in the long run by lasting longer and providing a better cooking experience.

Work Space

Although not necessary, I couldn’t imagine having a grill without somewhere to set my utensils, my sauces and seasonings, and, in the summer, my frosty beverage.

Personally, I’d be shopping for a model with attached work surfaces. The other option is to buy a table or large stand to place the Kamado on. Most manufacturers offer carts and tables custom made to fit their grills.

Construction Material

Most Kamados are either made of ceramic, or stainless steel (usually coated in enamel). Oh, and there is one cast aluminum model on the market.

What material you choose is up to you, and they all have their pros and cons.

I lean towards the ceramic – the material seems to hold its heat a little better, and of course there’s no chance of rust. However, if you think you might move yours around a lot, you may prefer a metal Kamado because they are far less likely to crack if dropped.

Size

Many different sizes of Kamado are available from pint-size to grill almighty.

The average Kamado has less cooking surface than the average gas or charcoal barbeque. Make sure to choose a unit that has enough space for your needs.

If you want to cook big racks of ribs, or feed the extended family in one sitting, you’ll need a big model. But if you’re just looking to serve your wife and kids, or a few buddies, a smaller cooker may suffice.

Withstanding the Elements

Grills generally stay outside year-round, so look for rust-resistant fit and finish to prolong the life of your Kamado.

You should probably think about a cover, too, to keep water from getting in the top vent.

Accessories

Part of the fun of a Kamado is its versatility. You’ll be amazed at the add-ons available for most models, from stacking grills, to skillets, pizza stones, rotisseries, and more. Beyond the cooking surface there’s also ash baskets and rakes, carts, and more.

Some manufacturers include more of this stuff than others do. Before settling on one Kamado over another, check to see what extras come included, and which you’ll need to purchase separately.

If the only difference between two grills is cost, you may find that difference is erased or even reversed by the time you pick out the bits and pieces you’ll want and need.

Warranty and Customer Service

Anything can break, and ceramics are especially at risk for cracks and chips. There are also parts that can wear, like hinges and seals, and then there are all the bits and pieces inside.

Look for a warranty that provides good, comprehensive coverage; some companies offer a lifetime of coverage, and some offer little or none.

It’s impossible to know precisely what a manufacturer’s customer service is like until you have to put it to the test. What you can do is check to see what kind of responses people get when they post questions online.

Look for social media posts, or a feedback section on the manufacturer’s website to gauge what dealing with them might be like.

Previous Buyer’s Opinions

If you have friends with Kamados, chat with them to see what their experiences have been. Has it lived up to expectations? Would you buy it again?

Check around online, too. There are plenty of Kamado grill forums, and you can read reviews from owners. Company websites might give you some insight, too. Of course, you’re already here, so the easiest thing to do is just to keep reading and find a lot of info all in one place, rather than combing the Internet all day.

Budget

Ah yes, the all-important budget.

It’s good to have a dollar figure in mind that you’re comfortable with and to try to stick with it. Be realistic, though; a good Kamado is not inexpensive, though prices range from around $300 for a lower quality product up to many thousands of dollars for the biggest and fanciest models.

Consider what you get for your money, and how long you hope to have the grill for. To my mind, it’s always better to stretch the budget to get a quality product that will last a long time, if stretching will make the difference. Better to buy a high-quality grill once, than to replace a low-cost unit every couple of years.

Conclusion

If you weren’t sure a Kamado was right for you before you started this article, I hope you have found the answer. They are a unique and versatile style of outdoor cooker, and the right one will provide years of enjoyment and mouth-watering food.

You’re only limited by your imagination, and if you like all kinds of food, you’ll never get bored of your Kamado. Yes, they cost a bit more than the average barbeque, but I think they’re worth the investment.

All of the grills listed above will do the job and do it well, but, to my mind, there’s a clear choice for the top recommendation.

The Kamado Joe ties up useful accessories, innovative features, quality workmanship, and a great community of support in one neat package. You really can’t go wrong with this remarkable product, and I’m confident you’ll love cooking on it.

Whichever Kamado you choose, I hope you soon find yourself making the kinds of meals you thought could only be made by professionals.

Got a favorite Kamado meal, or a story to share? Drop a comment below and share with the world!

Happy grilling!

 

Unless otherwise stated, Image credits: © Amazon.com

Mark Jenner

Hi. I'm Mark Jenner, owner and creator of FoodFireFriends.com. I grill and smoke food outdoors at least three days a week on a wide range of equipment, have done so for years, and love nothing more than cooking good food, over live fire, enjoying it with friends. The aim of this site is to educate and help others to do the same.

36 thoughts on “Best Kamado Grill – Buyers Guide and Reviews, 2019 Edition”

  1. Mark, my wife and I are considering purchasing our first kamado. We’ve narrowed down our search to two basic models, the Primo “Large” and the Monolith “Classic”. My wife really prefers the Monolith. She says it just looks better and it also comes with many accessories. Not sure if we need all them. Our question is this, can you get the Monolith in a different color?
    Thanks for you’re advice.

    Liz and Wayne

    • Hi Wayne,

      Buying a kamado? Good choice! You’re sure to have a lot of fun and some great food from a Kamado, it’s the cooker I use the most from my selection.

      It’s my understanding that they only come black, it’s the only color I’ve ever seen. You could shoot a quick message to Monolith at: monolithgrills.com/contact-us/

      EDIT: As Martin quite rightly pointed out below, and is stated in my article above, all 3 size of Monolith grills are in fact available in black or red.

      Mark.

      • Hey Liz and Wayne,
        in Europe you can get it in red edtion, i think that´s my choice!
        Greetings Martin (Austria)

        • Quite right. Perhaps I should read my own articles before replying to questions, haha. I state above: “All three units are available in either red or black, and come complete with many nice accessories…“. I’ll have a word with myself.

  2. Any thoughts about the Blaze Kamado? I am torn between the Blaze and a Big Joe. The unit will be part of an outdoor, covered kitchen. I like to smoke full packer briskets and pork butt simultaneously. I also like to sear steaks and finish them at a lower temp. Ideas? Comments welcome…

    • Hi Justin,

      I have to be completely honest with you, I’ve never actually seen one in the flesh, and I never see them pop up in conversation online. I’m in multiple large facebook groups dedicated to BBQ, and only once heard of them and took a look.

      They do look good. Solid construction, lifetime guarantee (important IMO), have the nice feature that they do not need a firebox (sometimes fracture for ceramic owners), or any seals (that sometimes need replacing on ceramics.) Also, very easy to clean as you can take a hose to if you like, which you cannot with a ceramic.

      But really, I’ve no idea what they cook like, what the airflow and temp control is like etc. I’ve just not had experience of them or seen anybody talk about them.

      The blaze sits somewhere between a Kamado Joe classic and Big Joe size wise I see, but does not have a grill expander available I believe? I think that’s a sad omission as you really can’t load it up like you can some other models.

      I personally have a Kamado Joe classic and can do a brisket and pork butt on that with the grill expander, BUT, it’s a squeeze and I really do regret not getting the Big Joe for the extra capacity. Although a lot of time I do not need something that big, on the occasions I do, it would have been nice to have the option. I often have to fire up a second grill because I went for a classic. But I also kind of enjoy using multiple bits of equipment at the same time, so not all bad. I like to sometimes cook large amounts, portion it off, vac seal it and reheat sous vide you see, it gets the maximum out of the fuel I use and the time put into it. OK, I’m waffling, haha.

      The Blaze Kamado – yes, not sure what to say tbh. I wouldn’t want to discourage you from considering it, it does look good, looks solid, has a few nice accessories. I certainly wouldn’t knock back the offer of having one. But if it was my money, I would likely buy a Big Joe – I’m an incredibly happy owner, love the community around the product, and the companies good reputation and obvious passion for always moving forward with new innovations.

      Mark.

  3. Loved this review of various cookers but notably absent was the Vision Grills line of komodos. Looked at one (Pro S?) at Home Depot and it appeared to be solidly built with some interesting features & options, and not outrageously expensive. Have you seem and/or your thoughts?

    • Hi Rudy,

      Thank you for your comment and suggestion 🙂

      Yes, I’ve heard of Vision grills, but I’ve not seen one or heard / read many reports from people saying how good, bad, well built and durable or otherwise they are just yet. I’m aware that a few different companies and stores buy them up rather cheap from Alibaba, re-badge them and sell them under different names. You can see them for sale here at quite the low price indeed (though shipping would of course be crazy expensive): Alibaba – Vision grills

      Thing is with this list, it’s of Kamados proven to be the most popular, highly effective, long lasting, well made and well supported. There are bound to be many not on the list as it’s not exhaustive and new Kamado brands are appearing all the time, so the list may change over time as I revisit it and see new models over the months and years. Vision grills may well make it onto the list in future, but I wouldn’t include them yet until a general consensus is formed by owners on how good / bad, how well supported and how long lasting they are.

      Thanks,
      Mark.

  4. Avatar
    Willie Ulysses Williams

    Did you try
    Char-Griller AKORN Kamado Charcoal Kooker
    Wanted to know if this Kamado is worth the purchase if on a low budget

    • Hi Willie,

      I’m afraid I’ve neither used one, or looked into them too much. I’ve seen them mentioned a few times around the web, but I don’t know of the general consensus as to their quality, sorry.

    • Used one for about 6 years. Very good. Keeps temps at 225 for over 18 hours. Quality gasket. No air leaks. Cast grate, locking wheels. Side tables. I love the removable ash catcher. Definitely worth the money.

  5. I’m considering a KamadoJoe, but am used to a gas grill with quite a bit of space. I’ll be using it to feed a family of 4 a couple times a week and entertaining once a month or so for groups of ~10-15. The Big Joe is out of my budget. Think I could get away with using the extra rack on the Classic? Does the difference in height affect cook time, etc.?

    • Hi Nate,

      The Kamado Joe classic is easily enough for the regular feeding of 4. We’re a family of 4 ourselves (me, my wife and 2 children) and it’s my go-to grill that I use about 3 days a week.

      However, for feeding 15 people? It depends what your plans are and what you intend to cook and serve for such a number of people.

      With a grill expander, you can easily smoke low n slow 2x pork butts, or a brisket and pork butt at the same time. Or you can fit on a couple of racks of st Louis style ribs laying flat, more if you buy a rib rack that holds them vertically instead of laying them down.

      You can easily do a big roast for 15 people, such a huge prime rib, or 2x legs of lamb, or 2x pork loins etc. Or you can load up a huge amount of chicken pieces (quarters, legs, wings etc.) all of which can feed 15 people with ease.

      And the thing with doing butts, briskets, big roasts etc. After they are cooked, wrap them in foil, then in a towel, place them in a warmed drinks cooler and they will stay hot for hours, freeing up the Kamado Joe to then cook sides or other things ready to be served at the same time as the main star of the show.

      Does the difference in height of the grill expander affect cook time? Partially, yes, but it depends what you are cooking and it’s minimal.

      What I mean is, after ‘heat soaking’ a ceramic kamado so the whole unit is up to a stable temp, the thick ceramic radiates heat quite evenly and the temperature gradient across different heights is quite minimal. You will read on forums people saying “my dome temp is 30 degrees hotter than grate temp”, but seriously, I just don’t ever see this at all when cooking low n slow (temps between 225 to 250f), they just haven’t given the unit time to heat up and stabilize properly at which point the difference is negligible to non-existent.

      However, there is ‘some’ difference between grate and dome temp when roasting at higher temps of 350f+ because the lower rack is just so much closer to the heat source which is burning hotter compared to cooking low n slow. So when using the extender rack, if cooking low n slow, to me it makes no difference. But if roasting at higher temps, I do swap things around between levels during the cook, to make sure things cook evenly.

      Anyway, back to feeding 15 people: Where you will struggle is if you are direct heat grilling for a crowd. Things like steak, burgers etc. you would have to ‘feed people in shifts’.

      When direct heat grilling, I like to have a ‘safe zone’ with a heat deflector and higher setting of a half moon grate, so I can move foods between the high direct heat, and then away from it if needed. Therefore, I effectively cut the kamado grill cooking area in half. This enables me to safely cook 3 or 4 steaks at a time MAX, or perhaps 5 or 6 burgers. This will be less than you are used to on a large gas grill I’m sure.

      So in short (too late for that?) if smoking (or roasting) large hunks of meat low n slow for 15 people, no problem. When done, keep it warm, then cook sides.

      If wanting to ‘direct heat grill’ for 15 people, you would feed them in shifts, doing 3 to 5 at a time.

      Personally, I usually use a Weber kettle and my Kamado Joe together, big meats to feed a crowd on the KJ so we all eat at the same time, and then the Weber kettle to serve stuff like burgers, sausages etc. and at this time use the KJ too if necessary, to have 2 units and their combined capacity for high heat grilling while the bigger meats are resting.

      To give an idea of what you can get on the Kamado Joe classic with the grill expander, I’ve attached a few photos of my cooks below.

      Hope this helps!

      2x racks of beef ribs that were 2.5kg each:
      2 racks of beef ribs on a KJ classic.

      2x racks of baby backs and 12 to 14 individual lamb ribs:
      pork and lamb ribs on a KJ classic

      Approx 40 wings and 25 moink balls:
      wings and moinks on a KJ classic

      2 racks of MEATY spare ribs (could easily fit more):
      2 racks of pork ribs on a KJ classic

      2x racks of beef ribs, and 3x racks of VERY MEATY pork ribs:
      2 beef ribs, 2x prok ribs and a butt on a KJ classic

      A ton of cheeses, garlic etc. when I did some cold smoking on the KJ:
      cold smoking cheeses and garlic

      So as you can see, you can get a lot on there.

      • REALLY helpful stuff. Thanks, Mark!

        • No worries, happy to help!

  6. Hi Mark,

    I definitely am going to buy a Kamado Grill! However I can’t decide between a ceramic one or the broil king keg.

    I feel the ceramic ones are more iconic, but I am more the practical type.

    Basically when I read about the Broil King Keg, I think “it’s lighter, more efficient, doesn’t keep smells, and doesn’t break, so I don’t get how ceramic kamados are going to survive”.

    My question is: Am I missing something? Are the ceramic ones better for slow cooking, or easier to regulate the temperature? or something like that? If not, why isn’t everyone buying the broil king keg? There must be some advantage on having a ceramic one other than the fact that they were the first ones…

    Thank you very much,

    Sebastian

    • Hi Sebastian,

      To be perfectly honest, I’ve not yet used a ‘metal kamado’ so cannot truly compare their results when cooking. But I have seen and heard of many people using the Weber Summit charcoal grill, which somewhat resembles a kamado and is made of metal, and they absolutely love it and cannot sing it’s praises enough.

      Anyway, I think the advantage of the ceramic versions over metal, is the materials and parts on the ceramics are a higher quality. You often get ‘lifetime warranty’ on the ceramic versions, probably to 10 years on the metal ones. They will corrode in time.

      Also, because ceramics have a higher thermal mass, there’s simply more material, once up to temp, they will be easier to keep there. So once you are used to using a kamado style grill, you should find you will keep consistent temps on a ceramic cooker more readily, and they will be less impervious to inclement weather.

      But really, I’ve never heard anybody complain about their kamado style cooker, whether metal or ceramic. Even the cheaper ones like Akorn etc. people say they get great food from, just dialling in temps is a little harder, and they bite the dust within 2 or 3 years of use.

  7. Fantastic piece of content and advice Mark.
    I’m completely into my bbq’ing now at least doing 3-4 grills a week here in the UK on my trustee Weber Genesis. However I’m wanting to get another grill for longer cooks and to learn more about the craft of bbq. Narrowed down to 3 options…
    1) Weber Summit Charcoal – loads going for it and my existing extras will work on it – however it’s £1300
    2) Kamado Joe II – love what this is about and the look but concerned again by cost and the possibly crack….

    So with 1&2 being similarly priced and not knowing how much I’ll use I then thought what about
    3) Kamado Joe Jr – it’s like £420 and it would give me the taste of Kamado and if only using for longer cooks I could compromise on grill space….

    So ultimately is the Joe Jr any good?? I’ve subsequently read how it’s hard to keep a low heat for a good number of hours and appreciate I might want to build something to house it at a decent height so a little one doesn’t knock into it…

    Any help would be great – cheers

    • Hi Chris,

      We’re in the same country…where are you based?

      The KJ junior is very good, but you have to bear in mind it is very small! Personally, I see it as either a collectors item for people who simply MUST have all 3 sizes due to an addiction (LOL), or a good ‘second grill’ to use at home if you already had a larger one to do long low n slow smoking sessions on, but you also wanted something smaller to cook on when you want a quick mid-week meal, or for smaller direct heat grilling tasks. Also maybe as one to take camping / tailgating.

      But yes, as a ‘main charcoal fueled smoker’ for me it’s just too small. If you was to have guests over, you wouldn’t be able to get enough on there to feed everybody, and you lose a lot of flexibility.

      Between the Weber Summit and the KJ classic, either would be absolutely fantastic to own, so it’s really down to personal preference. I’m sure you would be ecstatic to own either…I certainly would. However, I’d still go for the ceramic, as due to the higher thermal mass, it will soak up heat and keep a steady temp better IMO, important over winter months or when very windy.

      Have you perhaps considered the original Kamado Joe Classic version 1? There are still a good number kicking about if you google for it, and you can get them for £800 / £900, even some packages with a few extras come in at under £1k.

      KJ are actually releasing a version 3 early this year, with some more advancements and tweaks to the design. They are having a taller version with more cooking levels, adding a ‘hyperbolic insert’ which causes little eddies in the rising heat to make heat distribution even more even throughout the cooking chamber, also a new cart design. But yes, these will be even more expensive than the KJ version II. I think I’m going to upgrade to the Big Joe version III this year, always wanted a larger one, and running a website on outdoor cooking I feel I have some sort of duty to keep my equipment current. But I digress…

      If expense is a concern, I would absolutely consider the original KJ version 1 classic. £900 or so, and still an absolutely amazing outdoor cooker. At that price, you can add a controller from FlameBoss or similar for a couple hundred quid more, and be able to cook ‘hands off’: Set it to a temp, and it will stick there by the controller. You can go to sleep while it cooks overnight, or head out of the house while still monitoring the cook from your phone, even turning the temp down – or completely off – remotely from wherever you are, while knowing it will absolutely stick to whatever temp you set it to. Amazing when you don’t want to sit and babysit the cooker for a 16 hour brisket or pork butt!

      Yes, the version 1 isn’t quite as good looking as the V2 (or the upcoming V3) with their better hinge, nicer looking smoke cap etc. So yes it might be missing some newer features, but seriously the food that comes off them will be EXACTLY the same. I still have the V1 and when friends come round and they see all my outdoor cooking equipment (3x kettles, a KJ, a WFO, a WSM, couple of travel BBQs…) it’s ALWAYS the KJ they coo over and love.

      You mentioned cracking: When I first got my KJ, the firebowl cracked in 5 weeks. Only a smallish crack. I got onto support, they sent me a new one. I’m still using the cracked one though 2 years later. It never got worse, and I’ve used the KJ 2 or more times a week, including high temp 700f pizzas and burnouts, during summer and winter.

      If you do get a crack in the firebowl, you will simply be sent a new firebowl. And they actually send out the V2 firebowls these days, so it will not happen a 2nd time if it does even happen a first time.

      But if you;re referring to ‘cracking’ of the actual cooker itself, the main ceramics, then except for a unit being dropped or vandalized, I have yet to hear of it cracking a single time, ever. I’m in all the big BBQ groups on Facebook, and never heard of it happening, so this shouldn’t be a worry.

      so yes, summary: If money’s a concern, I’d go for a KJ classic V1, if not a concern, I’d probably wait for the KJ classic V3 to come out. This is my preference. But if you did go for the Weber Summit charcoal, they are an amazing bit of kit and I’d be a bit jealous as I want one, haha (though personally I’d buy a ceramic first..that’s just my preference. There’s not a lot in it.) However, I would not buy a Joe Junior unless I already owned a large one, they’re just too small for my liking. Not enough capacity and flexibility, would be frustrating if you ever do want to cook 6KG briskets, or tons of racks of ribs when you have friends and family over.

      Let me know what you eventually do, i’m interested 🙂

      Cheers,
      Mark.

      • Thanks Mark for the complete response.

        I’m in Hertfordshire and not that far away from a Kamado Joe stockists, so I decided to pop-in and see what you mean about the grilling size on the Junior – whilst it looks lovely I think over time I’d kick myself for not having more space to work with. So that is out [for now!].

        I had a look at the new Weber Master Touch Premium which as a smoking plate in it – seems a good grill and again at the cheaper end being about £360 – just waiting for some longer cooking reviews [I notice however it’s a Europe only BBQ] – fortunately a friend purchased so he’s going to keep me informed.

        Heard the Classic 3 is due out later this month / Spring time – not seen many differences between that and the II… will keep searching the web for information – it’s not on their website yet.

        So atm it’s a waiting game… will keep you posted and expecting to purchase later this month or if a great deal comes along!!

        One question – is ceramic ok cooking in cooler outdoor temps [I bbq all year round] so just thinking of the cooler spell last week and how they fair?

        Thanks again Mark and good to meet another UK BBQ’er

        Chris

        • Hi Chris,

          I’m in Beds myself, quiet little place called Meppershall. Maybe moved here 20 years too soon though as it’s the sort of place you retire to for golf and fishing, and not a lot else goes on. Oh well, I already play golf…fishing next I guess?!

          Ceramic cooking is fine all year round. Take a little time to let it come up to temp – as you should do anyway for every cook – and the ceramics will hold up well. Also, they are so thick and therefore provide such good insulation, it’s easy to hit temps and stay there regardless of the temps outside. I cook all year round in rain, sleet, snow, ice, in the coldest temps mother nature has to throw at us. No problem at all. I also see many people all over the facebook BBQ groups cooking in stupidly low temps compared to what we get here. So yes, definitely no issue.

  8. Hi Mark, Wow – small world I know Meppershall and actually live in Hitchin.
    Good to know on ceramic cooking – and since our last couple of comments I decided to patiently wait and see what the KJ Classic 3 is like when it finally arrives here later this month before actioning my purchase! Have decided to hold fire on the Weber Summit – I saw one in the flesh and was like it’s nice but rather imposing! So I’m waiting with baited breath to see this new KJ in the flesh – it looks nice from the pics online!
    Are you purchasing one this year or sticking with your current line up!
    Nice site btw!
    Chris

    • Ah, Hitchin, nice. We nearly moved there as I prefer a place with ‘a bit more energy’ but we got so much more for our money house-wise being out here, and it’s closer to all my wife’s friends. I’d prefer to be out Hitchin way myself though personally.

      I’m going to get a KJ MKIII for sure. With a classic MKI I would just feel ‘too out of date,’ which wouldn’t be best while running a website such as this. So the choice is: Big Joe or Classic…and also ‘standard type’ or the new deeper one that holds even more food? Will be interesting to see the price points, then I’ll decide.

      I’ll possibly do what I did when I bought the MKI: Make sure I buy it while I’m not in shouting distance of the wife, photograph and message her the receipt, then turn my phone off, lol.

      “Nice site btw!” – Thanks 🙂 It’s coming along nicely. Nearly at the stage now where I can start to concentrate on cooking and writing up recipes, which was mostly the original goal but has been strangely neglected! Just a few more weeks while I add some ‘how to / step by step’ guides for using different types of grills, then I get to actually showing off some cooking. At long last!

  9. So I’m still awaiting to see a video or something about the KJC III nothing is out yet but as the weather in the UK is teasing us not sure I can hold on… I’m trying to justify is a £450 saving should mean I just go and get the KJC II – it’s got some great reviews! Considering I was going to get the Junior is a massive step up..,
    Then I’ve just seen some great offers on Monolith and Primo…. hmmmm do I go there or stick with KJ (that’s where my head is) too many decisions now going through my head! But honestly think it’s do I pocket £450 and get the II – or does this new heat circulation tool make a massive difference…. hmmmm
    Will keep you posted

    • lol…love it.

      I’m like this with so many things: Phones, watches, new laptop, camera, kitchen knives, mountain bike…anything you drop a non-negligible amount of money on becomes a nightmare of research and trying to make that final decision.

      Once you get into ‘middle gorund territory or above quality wise’ there is so much choice, and you spend so much time looking at options, you fall in love with loads of them and it makes it hard to choose, when the reality is almost any on your shortlist will be more than good enough. Analysis paralysis!

      Yes, do keep me informed, I’m super intrigued to see what you end up with 🙂

  10. So Mark… last weekend I became the proud owner of a Kamado Joe!! A good event happened locally and decided to take the plunge! Started off by buying the latest greatest III but after a “chat” with my wife decided to switch to the II due to the cost difference being about £400. So I now have a KJ Classic II and am super happy! Brought it home on Tuesday night and had a friend help me get it into position… wow they are heavy to move.
    So now to this weekend and off to pick up some ribs and brisket (helps a best mate is a butcher!) and it’s time to start learning a new art form of bbq!!

    On the decision with changing from the III to the II I was actually ok with this… the cart upgrade I thought would have been nice but seeing the sturdiness of the II cart I just see it as a cosmetic upgrade. The smoking insert… hmm this was a tough one but at the back of my head I was concerned that my wife and daughter will find the smoke flavour too much so again was OK… I am interested to hear more about the III but at the end of the day I’ve a new toy and have never tried any other Kamado so know that this is going to be more than capable of doing the things I want to try out.

    A little disappointed can’t get to London today to see the Kamado Joe event with Eric and the guys but will just have to consume videos and content to learn more tips.

    Keep the content coming and happy bbqing this weekend… now for me to read up on dual thermometers!

    • Hi Chris,

      Love it! Congrats on the new purchase. I’m a bit jealous, what with my lowly MK1 version!

      I think you made a good decision. £400 is a lot of money, and the ‘improvements’ won’t affect the cooking much, if at all. Leaves you some room to buy accessories, or a ton of fuel and meat 😉 I look forward to seeing what you cook on it.

      I heard about the KJ event. I would have loved to have gone, but family commitments got in the way. A shame, as I spent 2 years living in Camden and love the place, would have been good to go back to the old stomping ground for a day.

      This weekend just gone I played with a Kadai firebowl for the first time, did a forerib of beef hanging over birch fire. Loads of fun. Will be making a post on it early next week…and finally starting a facebook page and group to post cooks, chat with people etc. So watch this space 🙂

  11. Hi Mark,
    Great info here! Wondering if you have any experience with or thoughts about the Grilla brand… specifically the Kong. Looks like a great product, but we would love to hear more thoughts about it and comparisons.
    Thanks!

    • Hi Charlie,

      I’ve not heard much about the kong I’m afraid. I’ve seen it pop up, but never really seen it discussed or reviewed, so it’s hard for me to form an opinion.

      On a related note: There seems to have been a large number of people entering the kamado market in recent years. If you google ‘alibaba kamado grill’ and click through to alibaba to see how many chinese factories are now making them and willing to tweak designs to your liking, add your badge etc. it’s quite surprising. It’s also hard to keep up with all the new brands that are entering the market.

  12. Hi there, I was hoping to get some advice between 2 choices for my first Kamado-style grill! I’m a novice when it comes to charcoal (have been a gas BBQ’er for my sins) and now am picking between the Kamado Joe Classic 3 (the larger sized one) and the Weber Summit Charcoal – which would you recommend and why? Thanks in advance.

    Mark

    • Hi Mark,

      It’s a bit like like BMW or Audi: Both extremely well made, both very desirable, both do what they’re supposed to do incredibly well, most would be happy to own either…and so it’s a personal choice.

      People with a summit say it holds temps well, is fuel efficient, cooks food like a ceramic and like a dream. The summit isn’t as thick as a ceramic, but it’s double walled with an air gap, so is well insulated and holds heat well. The summit doesn’t come with the insane weight of some ceramics, or fear of the ceramic cracking – particularly the deflector plates (not really a fear, just use your ceramic correctly and don’t drop it!) so is lighter and ‘partially mobile.’

      Generally speaking, there are more accessories for the Kamado Joe (DoeJoe for pizzas, or a standard pizza stone, rotisserie, many different grates, soap stone, cast iron, etc.), and with their recent redesign in the V3s, there is (or can be) far more cooking surface area, as you can now cook on 3 levels, which means you can cook huge amounts if you’re having a big party and have added enough grill grates.

      I have read people complaining about the propane ignition system in the Suummit, saying it lights too many coals at the start of a cook, or an indeterminate number, so starting it up and getting to temp can be a bit less consistent than with a ceramic – but then you don’t have to use it, and can use a looftlighter or lighter cube the same way you would a ceramic.

      But honestly, I know people who have cooked on both a KJ and a summit, and they love both, say the food is the same off both, and would be happy with either. I would be happy with either.

      So the only advice I can give is: Compare them like for like, thinking of what accessories you get with them, what accessories are available and which ones you might like in future, how much cooking surface area you might need, and then factor in the looks / appearance for which one you desire the most…and then decide for yourself. It’s a personal thing and some will prefer one over the other. They are both incredible grills / smokers, and you will surely be happy with either, and they are both comparably capable cookers.

      If you want my opinion though, I just bought my original V1 KJ classic a big brother, so am now the owner of a Big Joe V3. So you know which I would go if you want my opinion 😉

      Me and my Kamado Joes:

      Me and my 2 kamado joes in my garden

  13. Thanks so much Mark, I’m going to go and find somewhere semi-local where I can see and (play with!) both to help me make a decision. I’m sure you are right and you can’t go wrong, I was slightly leaning towards the summit as the ability to drop heat quicker if I get it wrong (or become distracted by the kids) is appealing, rather than being stuck at the wrong temp for an hour or so. But I do like the look of the Joe more!

  14. Sorry, I had problems with my browser, it didn’t load the comments correctly for a couple of hours. Well you already have my question. Thanks!

    • Hi Toni,

      That was probably my fault and not your browser, sorry for the hassle and confusion. I replied to your first question a few minutes ago.

      Over the last week I rebuilt this site, making all information more accessible via the menus and category pages, and also more than halved the loading speed, to make the user experience better. It was getting incredibly, painfully slow on the old software so really needed doing. In that time, comments were ignored somewhat, and the site flitted between versions as things broke and had to be restored. My apologies.

  15. I’m considering buying a Kamado for christmas but I really can’t decide between a Kamado Joe and a Monolith.

    I live in Europe and I’ve seen a Monolith in a shop but never a Kamado Joe.
    What I don’t really like about Monolith is the material between the lid and the main body.. Is it cloth? I know that Kamado Joe has fiber glass.

    Setting this apart, Can you tell me what would you do? Pay a little bit more and wait for a Kamado Joe Classic 2 or go get the cheaper Monolith Classic with my car and have it the same day? Is it worth it to wait?

    Thanks

    • Hi Toni,

      The material between the lid and the main body is a ‘gasket.’ It’s a felt like ribbon of material that serves to seal the body when the lid is closed, ensuring it’s airtight and that no heat and smoke can escape, helping with temperature control and fuel efficiency.

      I have a Kamado Joe Classic version 1, it uses the same felt. I’ve had this for perhaps 3 years or so now and used it on average 3 times a week. In that time I have had to replace the gasket twice. This is normal and to be expected, as it is a somewhat ‘consumable part’. How long it lasts depends on how often you use the kamado, how many of those cooks are very high heat (baking pizza, for example), and how often you get fats and sauces on it during use.

      I now have a Kamado Big Joe version 3, and it has the fiberglass gasket you speak of. I much prefer it, it looks better, seems to seal better, and although I’ve only had it a couple of months now, I’m reasonably sure this gasket will last a hell of a lot longer than the felt one too.

      What would I do? Monolith or Kamado Joe? I would get a Kamado Joe version 3. I have 2 KJs, a version 1 classic, and a Big Joe version 3. On version 3 I love the hardware, the build quality, I like the bright red color, I love the food that comes of it. I love the newer fiber-glass gasket, I like the ‘airlift hinge’ that makes the lid weightless, and I love the latch on the front that seals the lid tight in combo with the new seal, plus I love the look of the new cart. And a bonus is the limited lifetime warranty for the original owner on the ceramics, they really stand behind their product. It’s just a cool bit of kit, with some great advances made since version 1.

      For me, the Monoliths are more in line with Kamado Joe version 1, not a version 3, which is a class above.

      OK, so the question is: What should YOU do? If you are considering a Monolith vs a Kamado Joe Version 3, I think the biggest question is ‘how much are you willing to spend?

      The Kamado Joe V3 has design features and bells and whistles that the Monolith does not have (the things I mention above). These are ‘good to have,’ make the thing feel special and efficient at its job. However, it costs considerably more than the Monolith, so with Monolith you could save some money, it just will not look, feel or be as advanced design and hardware-wise.

      However, I am pretty darn sure if you had a Monolith and a Kamado Joe 3 side by side, and cooked the same cut of meat on each, using the same fuel and flavor wood, you would get incredibly close results from each, probably indiscernible.

      So, it really is up to you and a personal decision, perhaps driven by the desire to be the most up to date on the tech and hardware used or not, plus budget.

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